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Carl Schmidt, MD

Award Name Pilot Grant

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Integrating Microbubbles with Ablation for Liver Tumors

Carl Schmidt, MD, has been awarded a one-year pilot grant from the Pilot and Collaborative Translational and Clinical Studies Program in conjunction with the Richard P. and Marie R. Bremer Medical Research Fund and William H. Davis Endowment for Basic Medical Research at the Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Schmidt is using his grant award to collaborate with Ronald Xu, PhD, who is part of the Biomedical Engineering Department at The Ohio State University. Xu has developed an innovative technology: multimodal heat-sensitive microbubbles.

Schmidt is interested in using the microbubbles to enhance imaging technology to look at tumors in the liver and to implement thermal ablation, a procedure using heat to remove tissue or a part of the body, or destroy its function.

Radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation are technologies that are currently being used in the treatment of solid organ tumors, including liver malignancies. These technologies, while promising, have several limitations.

“There’s no perfect way during the procedure to make sure you have adequately killed all the tumor cells,” Schmidt said. “This is because the capability of intraoperative ultrasound to image thermal ablation in real-time is limited by thermal artifacts.”

If successful, the multimodal heat-sensitive microbubbles “would allow a more thorough way to image the ablation process,” Schmidt said. “[The microbubbles would] expand at a lethal temperature for cell death.”

When they are activated, the microbubbles would remain stable and allow for multimodal imaging of the thermal ablation process.

Once the imaging process is perfected, the microbubbles could be used in conjunction with radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation as a more effective way of killing tumor cells.

Schmidt and Xu will first test the microbubbles on animal models.

“Over the course of a year with the CCTS award, we will conduct three or four pig experiments where we will use ablation with microbubbles,” Schmidt said.

This experiment is in preparation for clinical trials involving humans in coming years.

The short term goal of Schmidt’s research is to provide a better picture for the ablation process. In the long run, Schmidt and Xu hope it will be possible to perfect the ablation process and help rid patients of liver tumors.

By Becky King, Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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